VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bato Dela Rosa makes two UNSUPPORTED claims on Duterte wealth, 2016 voters

Former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and senatorial candidate Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa in a media interview made two unsupported claims about President Rodrigo Duterte’s wealth and his supporters in the 2016 elections.


In a Nov. 21 UNTV interview, Dela Rosa, who was also police chief under Duterte prior to his BuCor stint, was asked where he plans to get support for his senatorial bid.

He said:

“Moral support lang yung sabihin niya (Duterte), walang financial support dahil alam man nating mahirap din ang presidente, wala man din yang pera (He said he can only give me moral support not financial support because we know the president is also poor, he doesn’t have money).

Source: UNTV News and Rescue, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Interview at Get it Straight with Daniel Razon, Nov. 21, 2018 watch from 35:01-35:07

He added:

“Alam kong si presidente nanalo hindi via the support of the— yung mga mayayaman dito na– negosyanteng nagbigay sa kanya ng pera. Nanalo siya sa taong bayan, yung suporta ng taong bayan (I know the president won not because of the support of the rich who… business executives who gave money [to his campaign]. He won because of the people, the support of the people).”

Source: watch from 35:14-35:27


Dela Rosa’s claim that Duterte is “poor” and has “no money” contradicts earlier pronouncements by the president himself.

Duterte has repeatedly flip-flopped on his and his family’s wealth; in some speeches he claims to have come from a poor family, while in others he says he inherited a fortune. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte flip-flops on family’s wealth and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: In his own words: Duterte sometimes poor, sometimes rich)

Late last year, the president, probed by the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged hidden wealth, said his lifetime savings “would not go beyond P40 million.” (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Timeline of the controversy on Duterte’s wealth)

Dela Rosa’s second claim could either mean Duterte did not get the support of the rich, or that their votes were not crucial to his landslide victory in 2016. Both are baseless.

Duterte’s statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) shows a sizable amount of his campaign funds came from a number of prominent rich personalities. His top donors include Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr. and then Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who was his running mate.

Duterte has also said on separate occasions that then Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade funded his campaign. Neither Marcos nor Tugade appear in Duterte’s SOCE. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Did Imee fund Duterte’s campaign? and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte either made a false claim or admitted to election offense in Jerusalem)

If Dela Rosa had meant that voters in higher income classes were not instrumental to Duterte’s win, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) exit poll in 2016 sponsored by TV5 Network Inc. contradicts his claim.

While the survey showed that Duterte led in votes across all socioeconomic classes, his biggest lead was among voters in class ABC.

In his Philippine Daily Inquirer column on May 14, 2016, SWS president Mahar Mangahas wrote:

“The higher the class, the more the appeal of Duterte: His lead over Roxas was 26 points in class ABC, compared to 17 points in class D, and only 7 points in class E.”

Source:, Revelations of the TV5-SWS Exit Poll, May 14, 2016

Former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas came in second in the 2016 presidential race with over 6.6 million votes behind.

The TV5-SWS exit poll had a final sample size of 72,821 voters from 802 voting centers across the country. Apart from socioeconomic class, the survey covered standard demographics including gender, age, education and religion.

The full poll results will be open for public consumption in 2019, until which the survey sponsor has exclusive rights, said Vladymir Licudine, SWS deputy director for survey design, analysis and training group.


UNTV News and Rescue, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Interview at Get it Straight with Daniel Razon, Nov. 21, 2018

PCOO, President Rodrigo Duterte, Speech during the installation of new officers and induction of new members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Davao City Chapter, Sept. 30, 2017

Statement of Contributions and Expenditures, Rodrigo Duterte

Mangahas, M. (May 14, 2016),, Revelations of the TV5-SWS Exit Poll

Social Weather Stations, The Bilang Pilipino TV5-SWS 2016 Exit Poll, May 9, 2018

Social Weather Stations, The 2017 SWS Survey Review, Jan. 31, 2017

CNN Philippines, Official count: Duterte is new president, Robredo is vice president, May 30, 2016, Duterte, Robredo win in final, official tally, May 27, 2018

Aljazeera, Rodrigo Duterte officially wins Philippines presidency, May 27, 2018

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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